Coffs Coast Advocate

Elite training clinic an eye opener

THE gap between local football and that of the elite level became clearly evident on Saturday for Coffs Harbour's best junior AFL talent.

Participating in an elite training clinic on Saturday under the watchful eye of coaching staff from Essendon, the young talent was put through its paces.

Participating in drills that involved more than just the skills of the game but actual game-sense scenarios, the wheat was soon separated from the chaff as far as the stand out players on the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort training ground were concerned.

The Bombers actually had their recruiting manager travel up from Melbourne especially for the afternoon session as the AFL club made no secret of the fact that they were on the hunt for any likely candidates considered good enough to receive a NSW player scholarship from the club.

The boys were certainly given opportunities to impress as well.

Told they were about to take part in a session which was a fairly regular occurrence at Windy Hill, the squad of more than 40 players were split into groups and rotated through a variety of drills after a solid warm-up and some ball handling drills.

Adrian Hickmott took the boys through the finer points of positioning for a mark, Gary O'Donnell honed tackling skills based on denying an opponent time and space to work in while Alan Richardson ran various kicking activities.

Regional manager for AFL Northern NSW Shane McAloon said that he couldn't speak highly enough of the effort that the Essendon coaching staff put into the session.

“The boys were so generous with their time and energy, it was a real winner,” he said.

“It was one of the better sessions that I've seen.

“The boys were obviously out to show themselves so they were nervous but they were pretty excited as well.

“The coaches and the parents that I spoke to were pretty stoked with the whole day.”

It was the local coaches who also benefited on Saturday afternoon as they took part in a coaching seminar.

Observing the session and assisting with some of the drills, the coaches had the opportunity to pick the minds of those from a higher level and then had an hour-long meeting to discuss varying issues dealing with being in charge and developing players.

“When the coaches registered to take part in the session, they were asked to send through to Essendon any questions that they might have,” McAloon added.

“Richo (Alan Richardson) had all those questions and made up a PowerPoint presentation to answer them.”

The Essendon staff and players believe that they've gained some real benefits from their stay in Coffs Harbour and have already started hinting at a possible return in the future.

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